Over the weekend I spent some time on a couple of alts, ones I am working on mainly for professions, but ones that I hope will allow me to get a break every now and then from the gear and rep grind on my main.
The alt I have spent the most time on so far is my druid — balance with resto attunement. She is an herbalist/alchemist, so that seemed like the most critical profession combo for me, at least the one that might save me the most gold in the long run. I leveled her over a month ago, but it has been a long slog to get her to the point where she can actually produce the pots and flasks I use on my main.
Balance has really improved as a play style in Legion, I think. Of course, this is the opinion of a rank amateur at the spec, but I find myself enjoying it far more than I did in WoD. While she is not well geared at all yet — 801 ilevel — I find both questing and herb gathering fun. The defensive capabilities are awesome when you need to avoid mobs or use the “run like hell” tactic, and having played a hunter forever, it is refreshing to be able to do so much self healing in order to survive some encounters.
The 7.1 change making Suramar and World Quests account-wide really helped, too. It allows me to focus on profession development and the factions that will give me some needed recipes, along with some modest artifact and class hall development activities. I don’t feel any real need to go beyond something like level 15 or 20 on my artifact traits. I will probably eventually get a resto artifact and level that to a minimum of 13-15, just to be able to heal some low level stuff in a pinch.
I did as much as I could with professions while leveling the druid, but there are level gates that prevent you from doing a lot until you have reached 110. And the crafting quest lines still seem far, far too onerous. There are something like 40 quests required just to get to the point where you can make basic combat flasks. While this in itself is not horrible — I am generally in favor of making people do some work to develop their professions — it is the nature of the quests that seems way out of line. For one thing, there seem to be a lot that require you to craft a significant number of relatively expensive and time-consuming items just to turn them in to the quest-giver. That is, unlike what has been usual in the past for professions (think engineering, for example), you do not get quest credit just for crafting the item but for giving it up. No longer can you craft 20 widgets, complete the quest, then sell or use the widgets. Nope, those are just freebies that get tossed into the bit bucket.
The other bad design — in my opinion — for crafting professions is the too-frequent requirement to do instances in order to complete a quest. And in at least one case for alchemy it is not just a matter of completing a dungeon but in fact you must unlock and defeat a special quest-related boss within the instance. This is the step that had been holding me back, and the one I finally completed over the weekend, with the help of a couple of generous guildies. The quest is Demon’s Bile, and I had tried it a couple of times using the group finder, only to have the groups pretty much laugh at me when I asked if we could do the special boss. No one wanted to take the extra time. Luckily, I always asked up front, so I was able to drop group when they said no. The quest is a critical step in being able to craft flasks, so without it much of your alchemy profession is useless. After this step, there are maybe half a dozen or more quests that make you run around all over Azeroth before you can get the desired recipes, but Demon’s Bile is a big hurdle.
I am not actually sure that going beyond Level 1 flasks is worth the effort at this point. I will be crafting them mainly for my own characters, so the fact that I won’t get the RNG drops of a couple extra here and there does not seem like such a big deal. I might try for a couple of Level 2s, which I think I can get via faction reps, but that is about it. It is not worth running mythics and high level group activities (for which you need decent gear, etc.) just for the off chance of maybe possibly getting a random drop of a Level 3 recipe.
Of course, without Level 3 recipes it will be basically impossible to reach 800, since the Level 1s grey out pretty quickly, but I am not sure I really care. I will not be able to craft raid cauldrons, but honestly there is not a lot of value in those in Legion anyway, in my opinion. They are horribly expensive to produce, and the flasks you get from them are no better than individual ones in terms of either stats or the time they last. Cauldrons in Legion seem designed as welfare for players too cheap to buy their own. So I really do not feel bad that I will not be able to produce them. I can make flasks for myself as well as donate some to the guild bank every week, so that is fine.
In general, I think I have decided that Level 3 recipes, and even reaching max profession level, is just not worth it for crafting professions in Legion. My main is a LW who is stuck at somewhere around 775. Eventually I will get the reps needed to fill in recipes for some pieces I don’t currently have, but getting the Level 2 recipes for some of the ones I do have is far too expensive (20 gems that still run into the thousands of gold each in the Auction House for one, for example) to be worth it. Especially since the gear I could craft with them tops out at 855. I can craft what I need by using a few more mats than it would take at Level 3, and so what if it takes more leather or scales to make — I have tons and tons of leather, scales, and Blood of Sargeras. I think it is too bad that maxing out professions is out of reach for a lot of players in Legion, but as I have pointed out before this expansion requires many of us to lower our game goals and expectations.
I do think it will be worth a certain amount of effort to max out gathering professions, though, and I intend to try for most of the ones I have. Gathering in Legion seems to take a lot longer than it did in Mists (I don’t count WoD where you could pretty much “gather” in garrison), and being able to get more items per node seems like a valuable skill to me.
Next up for profession leveling: my miner/JC, who happens also to be a hunter. I should reach 110 sometime this weekend. I have not really researched the quests required to learn useful gems, but I am expecting quite a lot of annoying requirements. And, like my other crafting professions, I doubt if I will progress beyond Level 1 recipes for many. (As an aside, my spec strategy for this, my second hunter, is to start out as BM and get my artifact to trait level 13 — BM being useful for leveling and soloing — then switch to MM as her main spec.)
Beyond these two alts, I think my third will be my Mistweaver monk, who has enchanting and engineering for professions. I am not too excited about engineering this expansion, but enchanting might be useful to me. I am not sure how many Bloods I will need for her, and getting them might be a challenge with no gathering skills (possibly have to depend entirely on world quests?). Also, being a healer, she should be more of a challenge to level up, but I will give it a try anyway.
Still, that is quite a ways off. For now, I am working on flask making and hoping there are not any more special-needs dungeon quests for the remainder of my baseline crafting professions. Diminished expectations ftw!!!!!